Minutes of GOS meetings

Friday, 28 September 2018

Nightjars and windfarms

GOS had its first winter evening meeting on Friday 28 September 2018. Paddy Jenks gave a well illustrated talk on nightjars, which he and his associates had studied on behalf of a windfarm operator. Some of those present remembered nightjars being present as breeding birds in Gower. Those days have long gone, so it was heartening to hear that clear-fell in coniferous forestry seems to suit these mysterious birds rather well. Paddy knew their calls and what they mean. He described their feeding methods and diet. He knew population details across Wales and he showed photographs in which birds scarcely beyond the photographer’s feet were all but invisible because of their cryptic colouration.

There is a much-touted fear that turbine blades kill birds; and this indeed is the case for some species. However, the rotor tip at its lowest point is a lofty fifty meters above the ground, and nightjars seldom find a need to fly that high save when crossing a valley. The speed of the rotor tip can be 200kph, at which speed it would certainly pose a problem for any conflicting flight, avian or other.

Paddy had followed the construction of a windfarm and knew the problems of site preparation, blade transport and operation. Using radio-tracking and other techniques he was able to say that the present windfarms pose no threat to the nightjars. What he could not predict was the longer term effect of windfarms on the clear-fell as habitat. In short he was calm about the birds’ present status, but had to be guarded about what might unfold.

Margaret Price Memorial Quiz, 2019

  1. In Edward Lear’s limerick, how many birds build their nests in the whiskers of the ‘old man with a beard’? Name the species for extra marks.
  2. How many British birds have the word Golden in their name? One point for the number and one point each for species named.
  3. How can you tell a male from a female Great tit?
  4. Which small bird had the nickname ‘Woodcock pilot’?
  5. Aristotle thought that Redstarts changed into which bird in winter?
  6. Which bird was thought by Gerald of Wales to emerge from ‘ gummy excrescences on floating timber’?
  7. Which rarity hybridised with a Mallard on the Isles of Scilly?
  8. To which bird is Wordsworth referring? ‘Ethereal minstrel, pilgrim of the sky’
  9. To which bird is Shelley referring? ‘O blithe newcomer! I have heard, I hear thee and rejoice’.
  10. Which of the three common woodpeckers doesn’t drum?
  11. Which common garden bird’s song has regional dialects?
  12. According to the BTO what do the following have in common?
    a) Turtle dove; b) Spotted flycatcher; c) Starling.
  13. On which British island did Bittern breed for the first time in 2018?
  14. Which football team is known as the Seagulls?
  15. Which rare warbler was confirmed  breeding in the recording area in 2015?
  16. Which species is the oldest known female bird still confirmed to be breeding
  17. Which band might Columba livia want to join?
  18. What colour are Blue tit eggs?
  19. Which rare duck was released into the wild recently after being raised in captivity
  20. The name of which common British breeding migrant contains all the vowels once only?
  21. In which Welsh county was Snowy owl reported first in March 2018?
  22. Which re-introduced species crossed the Bristol Channel and bred on the Gwent Levels in 2016?
  23. Which potential first for Wales was ringed on Bardsey in May 2018?
  24. Where in Wales was a Green heron seen on 28 April 2018?
  25. Give the English names of these birds:
    a) Titw Tomos Las; b) Gwennol; c) Titw’r Helyg; d) Hwyaden Gopog; e) Cigfran; f) Hwyaden Bengoch.
  26. Sort out the bird names from these anagrams:
    a) Shark lore; b) Extra man washer; c) Rents unto; d) South marine; e) Rat wailer
  27. Match the species to the dialect name:
    a) Little grebe; b) Eider; c) Chiffchaff; d) Willow warbler; e) Shelduck; f) Wood warbler.
    a) Miller’s thumb; b) Burrow duck; c) Dive dapper; d) Green wren; e) St Cuthbert’s duck; f) Feather bed.
  28. Match the species to the collective noun:
    a) Buzzard; b) Chiffchaff; c) Chough; d) Starling; e) Linnet; f) Lapwing.
    a) Chattering; b) Confusion; c) Wake; d) Deceit; e) Murmuration; f) Parcel.
  29. Which two well-known ornithologists co-authored the recently published Handbook of Western Paleartic Birds?
  30. Which species are these?
    a) Recurvirostra avosetta; b) Haematopus ostalegus; c) Pluvialis squatarola.
  31. According to Gower Birds Vol. 11 no 1, how many birds are on the County List?
    a) 310; b) 312; c) 309; d) 300.
  32. In which year were there record numbers of Yellow-browed warbler noted in the recording area?
    a) 2014; b) 2015; c) 2016.
  33. Place the following plovers in order of size with the largest first:
    a) Little ringed; b) Ringed; c) Kentish.
  34. Link the specific name to the common name of these seabirds:
    a) Manx shearwater; b) Puffin; c) Guillemot; d) Razorbill; e) Storm-petrel; f) Kittiwake.
    a) Hydrobates pelagicus; b) Alca torda; c) Puffinus puffinus; d) Fratercula arctica; e) Uria aalge; f) Rissa tridactyla.
  35. Name this winter visitor to South Wales from the description:
    Black and white, rather dumpy body, steep forehead with crown rounded, or peaking over eye with black extending below eye. Bill rather tiny and up-tilted to a sharp point.